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Patrick Real had gone to Memphis sometime in May 1861 to persuade a younger brother, James Joseph Real, to return with him to the family home in Illinois. James refused to leave Memphis were he had lived since the family arrived in the United States in 1851 and been apprenticed as a wagon maker.
Shortly after making his decision to remain in Memphis, Patricks Brother James Real joined Company C of the 154th Sr. Tennessee (primarily made up of Memphis Irish). Patrick left Memphis and traveled back to St. Louis. Several days after his brother joined the 154th in June 1861, Patrick joined Company E of the the 7th Missouri Infantry (Irish).
On April 7, 1861, CSA Pvt. James Joseph Real fell at Shiloh at approximately 1:30 PM while leading his regiment and carrying the regimental colors in one of the Confederates' last attacks before falling back in the face of the combined forces of Grant and Buell.
Several weeks later, while encamped with the 7th on the Shiloh battlefield, Patrick learned of his younger brother's death and the likelihood that James had been buried in one of the mass graves that dotted the battlefield.
At the time of learning of his brother's death, Patrick was a 1st Sergeant in the 7th. However, he deserted his regiment and attempted to make his way to Memphis to recover his brother's personal effects (this is recorded in a July 1862 letter from a resident of Memphis. After the war the resident's brother would settle in Nebraska on land provided through Capt Real). Patrick was not able to get into Memphis since it was still occupied by Southern forces. He eventually made his way back to Illinois, where in September 1862, he joined Company K of the 90th Illinois (Irish Legion). Most likely because of his admitted prior service with the 7th Missouri, he was elected Lieutenant. Later, he would be promoted to Captain.
Before the 90th left on a tour of central Georgia led by General Sherman, Captain Real was given a medical discharge and returned to Illinois. The attached picture was most likely taken about the time of
his discharge in 1864.
Using the Soldier's Land Act, Patrick and his family would move to Nebraska where he became one of the founders of the town of Grafton and its early leading businessman and landowner.